|O. Anunoby36 MIN, 26 PTS, 2 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 9-16 FG, 2-7 3FG, 6-7 FT, 2 BLK, 4 TO, -17 +/-|
Was Toronto’s best offensive engine. Great at drawing fouls, hit some jumpers, and was strong in the paint, too. His energy transfer from the ground to the air was some of the best its been in his career, as he turned his paint touches into consistent points. Came into the game to close in the fourth and did just that, drilling his self-created jumpers. He is running 1a or 1b for Defensive Player of the Year; he just eats opponents’ souls in every aspect. Tonight was with shot blocking, but he can do it anyway, anyhow on the defensive end.
|O. Porter Jr.27 MIN, 6 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 2-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -13 +/-|
Defensively mostly good. He seems to know Toronto’s schemes inherently, getting to his spots on time and attacking the ball as a helper. Active hands. But he gave up a few blowbys, and he wasn’t solid enough on the glass. He stuck to his offensive lanes so consistently last season (spot-up 3s, cut) that it’s surprising to see him do other stuff for the Raptors (postups?!), but he’s effective. The Raptors need him to be a 3-point marksman, though, and he isn’t close to attempting enough.
|T. Young34 MIN, 15 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 3 STL, 6-10 FG, 0-2 3FG, 3-4 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -13 +/-|
Calm, cool, and collected. One of Toronto’s best post players in this one, tossing in his patented quick-release hooks over smaller defenders. Like, over and over and over. Was really effective as a pick and popper, attacking off the bounce. The offensive struggles were not on him.
|S. Barnes39 MIN, 8 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 4-16 FG, 0-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -18 +/-|
A tale of two offensive abilities. As a creator, he was awesome at pushing the pace, getting off the ball early, hitting ahead, entering the ball into the post, and making sure the Raptors ran their stuff from advantageous positions. All good stuff! As a scorer, he was not creating paint touches for the Raptors, relying pretty heavily on his 3-point jumper. He was fairly soft around the rim, too, throwing up a flat-footed floater in the third quarter when he had a fairly easy lane for a dunk. Ultimately, the passing was nice, but the Raptors needed him to be more of a scorer. They didn’t have enough without Barnes.
|G. Trent Jr.19 MIN, 6 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 1-13 FG, 0-5 3FG, 4-6 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -17 +/-|
Really aggressive trying to establish himself as a scorer early, which theoretically should be a worthwhile point of emphasis. Toronto needs someone to create advantages, and may as well try it with one of the prettiest jumpers in the league. But he just didn’t make anything, forcing contested midrange stepbacks time and again out of static sets — even if he had made them, it wouldn’t have helped his teammates. He doesn’t do enough to be a positive player when he’s not scoring, and he doesn’t do enough to score when his jumper isn’t falling. This is one of those “the numbers tell the full story” games from Trent.
|J. Hernangomez15 MIN, 0 PTS, 8 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -4 +/-|
First off the bench! Not for his defense, presumably, but for his shooting. Wasn’t particularly helpful on that end, though, even missing an uncontested tip dunk to start the fourth.
|C. Boucher28 MIN, 19 PTS, 7 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 6-17 FG, 2-8 3FG, 5-7 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -3 +/-|
Took over the game offensively. He sprinted the floor in transition with abandon. His offensive rebounding bounced back, which is both his greatest offensive strength and Toronto’s identity with Siakam out. (Not a coincidence that both are the case.) Nice pump-and-go in the first, too, with an impressive finish over Myles Turner. Drew free throws, even hit a hanging jumper in the short midrange. Hit a triple. His defense hasn’t been as consistent for the past week+, and that was the case tonight as well. Got lost in transition once or twice, and didn’t always react to cutters in his zone, either. But his offense stole the show, especially in the first half. They needed all of it.
|D. Banton13 MIN, 14 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 5-8 FG, 2-3 3FG, 2-2 FT, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 4 +/-|
Immediate defensive impact, blocking a jumper as a one-on-one defender on his first possession, which was impressive. His jumper is so much improved form last season, it’s crazy. Was confident pulling up out of pick and roll and hitting catch and shoots. He’s so much better when he’s not the initiating guard and able to attack or shoot off the catch. Some good work cutting and on the offensive glass, too.
|C. Koloko06 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 1 +/-|
Left early with a hip pointer but was available to return. Solid putback in the third to help Toronto rebuild its lead.
|M. Flynn23 MIN, 8 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 3-9 FG, 1-5 3FG, 1-1 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 10 +/-|
Threw in a wildly impressive teardrop lefty layup that hit the topmost portion of the backboard – so high it wasn’t even the glass. Another not quite so high to end the first half. He scrapped. Hit a triple after mishandling the ball. He wasn’t perfect defensively, but the offense was crisp.
The Raptors found themselves again — for one half of basketball. The identity is defensive aggression bordering on lunacy, pushing the pace at all costs, butchering the offensive glass, and getting paint touches through postups, not drives. That all worked tonight for about 28 total minutes, and it just wasn’t there at all for 20. The Raptors aren’t going to outskill any team, not without Siakam and VanVleet, but they can certainly outplay them. They just need to at least keep pace from deep, but they couldn’t come close tonight. I did really like Nurse just playing the guys who he knows he can trust. Starting Porter and Young was a stroke of genius, and I really liked Banton and Flynn playing together rather than fighting one another for minutes. It’s not Nurse’s fault that some main guys couldn’t score.
Things We Saw
- The Raptors were systematic at identifying size mismatches and pounding the ball in the post against smalls. That works in theory, but it’s significantly less effective without Siakam in the lineup. (Just like everything else.) Instead of makes, it resulted in a boatload of free throws, which is really the next best thing. Foul trouble really hurt the Pacers, recording six fouls in the first five minutes. When the Raps stopped getting free throws, they also stopped winning.
- The Raptors straight up love to give opponents corner triples. When it pays off in turnovers, it’s worth it. But the Pacers weren’t sloppy with the ball in the first quarter, instead just creating great catch-and-shoot jumpers. Starting from a disadvantage on the defensive end. They couldn’t score enough to spot the team open triples, especially because they couldn’t really boost enough transition points anyway.
- Starting in the second quarter, the defense hit highway-speed gears. Toronto was aggressive digging into ballhandlers, forcing lofty passes, giving time for the rotations to get where they needed to build the wall all over again. Much more engagement off the ball as compared to last night. It still wasn’t enough, but it was much, much better.